About the Society
The Powell Street Festival first took place in 1977 and has since expanded to be one of the largest and longest-running community arts festivals in Canada.
The Powell Street Festival Society now functions as a non-profit registered charity arts organization based in Vancouver and the Paueru Gai Area—today known as the Downtown Eastside—located on the unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.
In addition to its signature event, The Powell Street Festival, the Society offers year-round programs and collaborates with local, national, and international organizations, artists, and communities to advance equity and well-being for all.
Mission & Values
To celebrate Japanese Canadian art and culture to connect communities.
- Community: We foster engagement, collaboration and accessibility.
- Artistic Excellence: We cultivate and support artists and cultural producers.
- Inclusivity and Diversity: We program events and activities that welcome a wide range of participants, striving towards barrier free experiences.
- Heritage: We honour the location of Paueru Gai and Japanese Canadian history. Through this, we acknowledge a larger narrative of displacement and colonization.
- Resilience: We protect and maintain the financial and operational viability of the organization. Through this, we strive to sustain our capacity to fulfill our mandate and strengthen community.
The Powell Street Festival Society’s vision includes a society enriched and interconnected through Japanese Canadian arts and culture. To achieve this vision we:
- provide a hub for Japanese Canadian emerging and established, professional and amateur, and traditional and contemporary artists from across the Lower Mainland, Canada, the US, and Japan.
- develop ties and partnerships between Japanese Canadian and cultural umbrella communities (including the Asian Canadian, arts and culture, and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside communities) groups and organizations.
- provide the Vancouver community-at-large with a fully accessible diverse, innovative, and challenging Japanese Canadian voice while encouraging a deeper sense of interconnectedness and exchange.
The Powell Street Festival is a free 2-day public event, which attracts nearly 17,500 local, national and international attendees. It is held in both outdoor locations and indoor venues around the Powell Street area within Vancouver’s historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood, on the traditional unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil- Waututh First Nations. Influenced by typical Japanese summer festivals or matsuri, PSF features something for everyone, including dance, music, film and video, visual arts, martial arts demonstrations, amateur sumo tournament, children’s activities, participatory activities, walking tours of the historic neighbourhood, craft vendors, traditional displays, delicious Japanese food, and much more. The Festival provides a platform for Japanese Canadians to perform, display their work and gain recognition.